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September 26, 2020

Agent mafia looting PIA passengers with impunity

Top Story

September 26, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The agent mafia is looting people with impunity as Pakistanis who are aspiring to go to Saudi Arabia are paying up to Rs200,000 for a one-way air ticket due to availability of limited international flights.

The government has informed that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been allowed to operate more flights exclusively after using high-level diplomatic contacts. It was stated that with the involvement of Prime Minister Imran Khan, 21 more flights have been added to the PIA flight operations, bringing the capacity to fly 25,500 passengers. It also informed that all nationals would be able to return to their homes and workplaces in Saudi Arabia before September 30.

But now the situation has become a ‘nightmare’ for the passengers because the rate of air tickets for Saudi Arabia being sold by the travel agents ranges from Rs130,000 to Rs200,000 A travel agent who requested anonymity admitted to The News that there are people who have earned extra profit worth Rs 30 lakhs by selling only 25 air tickets of different categories in a single day. He said, “Hundreds of passengers approach us daily for air tickets but we cannot accommodate all of them due to limited availability of air tickets.”

When passengers approached the PIA they were informed that no air ticket was available and they should contact travel agents in this respect. The situation has now turned from bad to worse for those passengers who have to reach Saudi Arabia by September 30 otherwise they would lose their jobs. Many of them even approached the government lawmakers to rectify the situation but it seemed every one of them was ‘helpless’ against the unruly travel agents.

This correspondent repeatedly tried to make contact with PIA's spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan who neither picked up any phone call nor gave any reply to the text messages. PIA's spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan in his written reply to The News said “We have been asking everyone not to pay a single penny over the published fare by us. People have the option to come to us and our offices. We have issued 1,900 air tickets today to the passengers from our offices in Pakistan.”